Latter-day Saint Life

Why Not Receiving an Answer to Your Prayers Is Actually a Proof of Miracles


The following story originally ran on LDS Living in 2017.

Not having all the answers is more blessed.

In our quest for faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a tremendous and indispensable asset. But not because it offers all the answers to every possible question. Even—perhaps especially—within the restored gospel, there have to be some opportunities for us to question and doubt. They provide the opposition against which faith can grow and strengthen. In fact, Christ has deliberately withheld some things for this express purpose. He told Mormon, “I will try the faith of my people.”

Hence, the Lord supports faith but does not demand it. He lets us discover substantial internal evidences in latter-day scriptures but withholds incontrovertible proof. He gives us eleven witnesses of the gold plates but leaves Book of Mormon geography uncertain. By not compelling us to believe, Christ offers us the chance to be “more blessed.” He told the Nephites who had seen him that “more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me.”

And He told his doubting Apostle Thomas, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Apparently, the growth we gain from believing without seeing is so valuable that it’s worth delaying a visit from the Savior. We, too, considered it “more blessed” to practice believing in the dark. That’s why we left the sure knowledge we already had in our premortal existence. . . .

Heavenly silence is not a proof against miracles but a proof in favor of them.

Korihor claimed that spiritual experiences were “the effect of a frenzied mind.” When answers or miracles finally come, how will I know they’re from God, rather than from my own self-deception, hypnosis, or positive thinking?

I’ll know, partly, because I’ve tried really hard to produce them, with no success. Trust me, if I could hypnotize myself into receiving heavenly answers, I’m pretty sure I would have done it dozens of times by now. It doesn’t work. Much to my chagrin, my prayers, fasting, and temple trips are often met with silence. I’ve learned I really have little control over when and how heaven answers my prayers. I simply can’t conjure up that amazing peace whenever I want it. Self-talk during my prayers just doesn’t feel like those answers that have come on special occasions. No matter how hard I try.

Because we have repeatedly met silence, when the eventual answer comes, it feels clearly different. We recognize those special messages from the Lord precisely because they are rare and unusual and come at unexpected intervals. They feel so very different from the anguished or circular thought patterns that we create ourselves.

The woman who touched Jesus’s robe recognized her miraculous healing because she had tried everything she could for 12 years—without success! The pregnancies of aged Sarah and Elizabeth were exceptionally miraculous because they took exceptionally long to occur. Alma and Amulek “could not be confined in dungeons,” but “they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison . . . that the Lord might show forth his power.”

I’ve heard it said, “The prerequisite for a miracle is great difficulty; the prerequisite for a great miracle is impossibility.” The difficulties and impossibilities are shown during the silence that precedes the miracle. Miraculous answers, when they come, will be clear and recognizable precisely because of the wait today. We are already in the process. It has already begun. The silence today is part of the miracle tomorrow.

Lead image from Getty Images

Get more incredible insights from Answers Will Come: Trusting the Lord in the Meantime.

When questions seem to go unanswered, it can become a burden on belief rather than a catalyst for personal progression. In Answers Will Come, readers are invited to experience one woman’s powerful journey from the depths of doubt to the rediscovery of the light of faith. Through personal narrative, sacred scripture, and the inspired words of Church leaders, readers are reminded that every believer’s path to God is paved with questions. It’s up to you where those questions take you.


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